April 24, 2024, 17:15

Ukraine has unveiled a new handbook aimed at improving the investigation and prosecution of conflict-related sexual violence cases

The Office of the Prosecutor General reports that 274 criminal cases of CRSV have been recorded thus far, with the majority already making their way through the court system. Given the unique complexities involved in investigating, deliberating, and gathering evidence in such cases, Ukraine has developed a Handbook outlining strategies aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of CRSV case investigations and trial processes. 

The unveiling took place at the Media Center Ukraine – Ukrinform, where experts highlighted the incorporation of international best practices and the involvement of both domestic legal professionals and representatives from the scientific and expert communities in crafting the guidelines.

The Handbook on Effective Investigation and Prosecution of CRSV Cases is poised to serve as a valuable resource for law enforcement officers and judges alike, offering guidance throughout the pre-trial investigation and trial stages of criminal proceedings related to sexual violence in times of armed conflict. Moreover, the Handbook holds significance for attorneys, human rights advocates, and legal representatives directly engaged in supporting victims throughout the investigation and trial process.

Svitlana Yakovleva, a Judge of the Criminal Cassation Court within the Supreme Court, underscored the Handbook’s compilation of the Supreme Court’s wealth of experience. She emphasized the critical role of seamless interaction between law enforcement agencies and victims, stressing that such collaboration is instrumental in ensuring the thorough investigation and prosecution of perpetrators. Crucially, Yakovleva emphasized the importance of approaching victims with sensitivity, prioritizing the acquisition of information without causing further harm. Proper documentation of victim testimonies, she noted, is paramount in transforming them into credible evidence that ultimately holds perpetrators accountable for their actions.

“Today, the spotlight is on Ukraine, international partners, and the global community as we focus on investigating and prosecuting war crimes, including sexual violence. It’s evident to representatives of the judiciary that the responsibility for handling such cases and holding perpetrators accountable falls squarely on the national judicial system. Thus, it’s imperative for the courts to comply with high standards in executing this duty, ensuring that Ukrainian judicial decisions are perceived as lawful and just worldwide. While this Handbook doesn’t replace the Criminal Procedure Code or hold legislative authority, it serves as a roadmap to aid judges in navigating the complexities of these cases. Its aim is to facilitate timely, high-quality, and fair deliberations leading to lawful rulings,” emphasized Svitlana Yakovleva.

Sergiy Nizhynskyi, PhD in Law and Senior Legal Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Social Policy for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Advisor to the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, stressed the significance of the Handbook in stimulating judicial reflection. He highlighted its role in reminding both parties and participants of the process of the observed consequences, particularly citing examples from European courts in Kosovo, Bosnia, Croatia, and Rwanda.

Nizhynskyi expressed confidence that the Handbook will serve as a practical tool, facilitating the delivery of unequivocally fair decisions and unwavering advocacy for the interests of the victims.

Read more: https://mediacenter.org.ua/news